Cristo Rey Jesuit to host its first graduation

May 14, 2013

HOUSTON — On August 2009, Cristo Rey Jesuit College Preparatory High School opened its doors. On Saturday, June 1, 2013, it will host its inaugural graduation. 

Cristo Rey Jesuit, the newest Catholic school in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, is in an area where 60 percent of students drop out. However, at Cristo Rey 100 percent of the senior class will graduate and have been accepted to college. Many will be the first in their families to earn a high school diploma. The school will also be the only Jesuit school in the South awarding diplomas to women. 

Father T.J. Martinez, SJ, founding president of Cristo Rey Jesuit, said, “Founding the first, traditional tuition-free, work-study, Catholic high school in Texas, we opened the school four years ago to our first class of students, who now will make history as the inaugural graduating class of Cristo Rey Jesuit, and who now will lead the legacy of a generation of graduates to come.” 

Excitement is growing among the graduating class, and they are accomplishing dreams they never thought possible. Among them are Christian Ante and Amber Baker, who say that Cristo Rey Jesuit has transformed their futures primarily through the school’s unique and innovative educational model, including a Corporate Work-Study Program. 

Ante will be attending Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., the oldest Jesuit and Catholic university in the United States, beginning this summer. Like every student at Cristo Rey, he is literally working his way through school, but in his case, he is not only putting himself through school, but his mother as well. 

“It was necessary for me to go to Cristo Rey Jesuit so that my mother could go to law school. She has always been supportive, and I knew she would find a way to send me anywhere, but I came here so it would be easier for her to manage.”

Ante works tirelessly in and out of school to accomplish both their dreams. “I have three jobs this year: the Corporate Work-Study job that helps pay for my education, another job helping me to be self-sufficient and a paying job that helps my mom with her school,” he said. “Everything I do is for her, and everything she does is for me. She has made the impossible look doable.”

Approaching graduation, Ante thanks his mother and the faculty at Cristo Rey Jesuit for making him the person he is today. Cristo Rey Jesuit’s Catholic education taught him to put God’s love into action and to put God in every equation. 

His plans for the future are to give back what he has received. “One of the most important things about Cristo Rey Jesuit is its involvement with the surrounding community,” Ante said. “Being from this area, I feel connected to making it better. I hope to be a man for others and maybe even start a Cristo Rey school or something like it.”

Baker’s story is one of comebacks. Her sophomore year at Cristo Rey Jesuit was difficult, so when her mother told her they were moving to Abu Dhabi at the end of the school year, she was excited to leave everything behind. She thought it would be an amazing experience to live abroad. 
Six months into being homeschooled in Abu Dhabi, Baker made a courageous decision. “I wanted to finish where I had started.” She told her mother she wanted to move back to the United States and live with her grandmother and father so she could graduate with her class at Cristo Rey Jesuit.

She said, “My favorite memory at Cristo Rey Jesuit is coming back. Everyone lets me know every day that they’re glad I came back. Father Martinez whispered it in my ear at the Mass of the Holy Spirit. I knew I had made the right decision.” Six months after Baker returned to Cristo Rey Jesuit, her mother joined her back in Houston. 

“My mom makes me persevere more,” she said. “She is the reason why I have the work ethic I do.” 

Amber has committed to attend Hope College in Holland, Mich., next year. She found out about Hope College at the Strake Jesuit College Fair. 
“Michigan was never on the list. It was spontaneous,” she said. “It’s a good thing that Cristo Rey Jesuit is a college prep school. I would have never known about Hope College or gotten the chance to visit.”

Her plans include majoring in international business and communications, then she hopes to join the Peace Corps and eventually become a lobbyist in Washington, D.C.